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Canon A80 Camera   -   2004/07/29Viewed 215 times this month, last update: 2005/02/02

I'm not a photography wiz like Jon, but I take lots of pictures, and when I leave for Ireland this Saturday, I want to be able to take lots of good pictures of the beautiful landscapes, monuments and people.
To that end, I bought a Canon Powershot A80 camera. For a long time I've wanted one of the Digital SLR cameras, but I'm not a good enough photographer to justify it, nor can I drop a few thousand dollars on lenses. The A80 was right because it's not terribly expensive, just $280, and, unlike all other point-and-shoot digital cameras I've seen, it can utilize extra lenses and filters, and allows manual control of F-stop, aperature and focus. The wide-angle, telephoto and macro lenses are each around $100, and it can fit any 52mm filter, like the polarizing filter I'm going to buy for it today. Not only that, for just $250 Canon makes an underwater housing for it, good to 130 feet! It's like they designed the camera for me.

When I was at the Playa last weekend, I noticed that the rock's trails were much more clear to me than they showed up in my digital pictures. The reason, I discovered, was the polarizing sun glasses I was wearing. They cut the glare from the smooth tracks, and made for a much nicer image. Well, now with my new camera, and the filter, I'll have gorgeous photos of Ireland, even in the dew-covered mornings, glaring mid-days and over water.

Here's a picture of my new camera with the circular polarizing filter:

And here's the difference the filter makes:

Update 2004/08/23:
I had a great time in Ireland with the A80. Lots of great pictures, and no problems at all.

Since I got back, I've been playing with it, including long-exposure night shots and macro mode:

There are also now a couple of accessories I can't wait to buy (though they'll have to wait...): The Ikelike underwater housing, and a telescope fitting. These are of course in addition to the three accessory lenses Canon offers. ... Where did I leave that $10,000 check?

Update 2005/01/05:
I recently bought one of the two accessory lenses for my A80, the 0.7x wide-angle lens. It almost doubles the field-of-view, and so I think will make landscapes more dramatic and true-to-life. Here are a couple of pictures to illustrate the difference the lens makes:

Update 2005/01/25:
After exhausting Google looking for telephoto alternatives, (there are many, but none well reviewed) I bought the Canon 1.75x telephoto lens. It works well, and the 1.75x brings the total zoom to 5.25x which is actually pretty good. My second choice would be a spotter telescope with the Digi-T fitting, but that much zoom would be too much in most cases, and focusing has been noted to be very difficult. The Canon lens does have one major drawback though: No threads for filters. This seems very odd to me, but is easily fixed. The front end of the lens has a fairly deep recess, with an interior diameter of exactly 52mm. So, I took my $5.00 UV filter, popped out the glass, and glued the ring onto the inside of the lens. I did some testing first, this does not increase vignetting by itself, although screwing a filter onto it, like a polarizer does, but only minimally, and cannot be seen at the last few zoom stop points. Here is a picture of how it turned out:

I used four tiny dabs of Goop around the rear threads of the ring, and wiped away the excesss. I used goop instead of say, superglue, because it doesn't leave a film on nearby objects (the lens!) from it's curing process. The only drawback I've had is that the dust cover that came with the lens no longer fits snugly, but that's easily fixed with a snap-on cover for 52mm threads.

So, in summary, here are some sample pictures showing the effect of the wide-angle and telephoto lenses:

Wide-angle lens,
No zoom

No lens,
No zoom

No lens,
Full zoom

Telephoto lens,
Full zoom

Matt Bell (2004-08-24): I have the 127mm telescope from Orion and would recommend nothing smaller for sky viewing. The equtorial mount with a motor drive is one of the nicest accessories you can buy. Once you line up on a planet, it stays rock steady in the center of view instead of constantly slipping to the side.

Erik (2004-08-24): 127mm is 5 inches, those are the big boys! Relector or Cassegrain?

Matt Bell (2004-08-25): Cassergain, (this one)

Erik (2004-08-25): Nice! That looks like an awesome telescope.

See also: Image Archiving, Ireland, 2004, Nikon D70


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